Newcastle are a lucky club to have a manager as good as Rafa Benitez in charge, not just because he is obviously one of the best in the world, but that he stayed with us even when we were relegated.
That’s something that non world-class players like Moussa Sissoko, Gini Wijnaldum, Andros Townsend and Daryl Janmaat did not do and they all left for Premier League clubs in the summer.
It was obviously important to them to continue to play in the Premier League than to play for a world-class manager – but that was a valid choice they had.
Rafa Benitez – Newcastle manager
Notice that wasn’t the case for new boys Mohamed Diane, Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle who all left Premier league clubs to join the Rafa revolution at Newcastle.
So we now know we have players who want to be at Newcastle and that’s always a good thing.
By staying at the club Rafa showed he is completely committed to Newcastle and it cannot be easy for him with all the publicity in the national press almost exclusively about Premier League clubs.
Rafa has so far done a brilliant job since he decided to stay on at the second division club (ouch!) and the summer transfer dealings were just fabulous.
He cleared out the deadwood that should have been done long ago and seems sensible the way he does things with the club always coming first in priority – before the players.
That’s the way it should be and he even seems to be creating a very good working relationship with Managing Director Lee Charnley that delivered the goods in the summer.
Lee has been given credit for doing all the spade work in the summer when he arranged all the many deals for players coming into and players leaving the club.
He deserves that praise.
We’re sure Rafa expected at least a few of the high profile players to stay with him down below, since hopefully it’s just for one season, but they all bolted.
But Rafa seems to be enjoying life on Tyneside and it was really amazing that he invited some fans to the Benton training grounds on Tuesday and gave them a tour, showed them the improvements he had done over the summer and even went through a tactical session on how to defend set plays.
Certainly Fans Forum member Taylor Payne was still coming down to earth when he tweeted exactly what had happened.
Rafa seems to love the job he has and likes nothing better than to talk about football and in that respect at least – he reminds us of Sir Bobby Robson.
It’s still going to be a tough grind for us this season and with so many new players in the squad it could still take time for them to settle and gel.
It’s not going to be easy – we know that – especially after the disasters of the last three seasons.
But we also wanted to take the time to point out that it cannot have been easy for Rafa to stay on board either.
We really appreciate that he stayed and that we now have a top manager at the club.
Everything is suddenly so different this season.
Howay The Lads!!